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Re: Text for Metaformats W3C page

From: Pat Hayes <phayes@ihmc.us>
Date: Tue, 12 Jun 2012 21:43:37 -0500
Cc: www-tag@w3.org
Message-Id: <35CC5AF7-71BC-4368-A9FC-86F681C8BDDC@ihmc.us>
To: Mike Bergman <mike@mkbergman.com>

On Jun 12, 2012, at 7:44 PM, Mike Bergman wrote:

> 
> 
> On 6/12/2012 7:31 PM, Bjoern Hoehrmann wrote:
>> * Jeni Tennison wrote:
>>> Metaformats are generic formats that people can adopt when creating
>>> their own application-specific languages without having to reinvent
>>> syntax. The terms that people use to specialise a metaformat are often
>>> called vocabularies.
>> 
>> That seems misleading to me. In principle you can establish conventions
>> for using a particular format for all formats, so in that sense all for-
>> mats are "metaformats". But people do not typically call documents that
>> follow such a convention as instances of some "vocabulary"; you'd find
>> that mostly for formats specifically designed for others to create such
>> conventions.
> 
> +1
> 
> I find the intro of "metaformats" and all of the language surrounding this to be obfuscatory and uninformative.

+1. After reading all this, I have absolutely no idea what the term "metaformat" is supposed to mean. The three examples given - XML, RDF and JSON - have almost nothing in common. RDF does not have a grammar, for example. RDF is not intended for use in "creating ...application-sspecific languages". I do not know what it means to "specialise" RDF. 

The explanation sounds like using RDF as a metaformat saves users time because they do not have to invent their own syntax. Really? Did people invent their own syntax for triple stores before RDF came along? This is complete nonsense. 

What purpose is supposed to be served by introducing this strange, underdefined terminology and classification? 

Pat Hayes

> 
> We have data formats, data models and serializations. Some of these can lend themselves to representing vocabularies, others to data transmittal via key-value pairs or similar.
> 
> Even the singling out of the formats listed is parochial.
> 
> Personally, I see no value in this presentation. But, then again, there is no harm to post it. It is just one more Web page in the existing sea of content.
> 
> Thanks, Mike
> 
>> 
>>> Metaformats usually have a schema language that can be used to define
>>> or describe a vocabulary that uses that metaformat, and query or
>>> transformation languages that can be used to access information within
>>> documents that use that metaformat.
>> 
>> I do not think this is common at all. "Delimiter-separated-values" for
>> instance would certainly seem to be a "metaformat", but I am not aware
>> of any widely used schema language for them, other than the convention
>> to sometimes use the first line for column titles. Leading to much pain
>> since you can't import "english" DSV data into "german" Excel without
>> changing system settings because Excel does not know the "english" data
>> uses commas to separate fractional digits from other digits. If there
>> was some established schema language, I would expect such problems to
>> not exist, for the most of it. People would rather seem to be using a
>> lowest common denominator format like some DSV format precisely because
>> there is nothing better that works well across applications.
>> 
>> I could make a schema language easily, satisfying "there exists", but
>> that would not be very meaningful. There sort-of are schema languages
>> for JSON, but they aren't used much currently. I think it would be fair
>> to say the same about XML. And "HTML Microformats", or Mediawiki "Wiki-
>> text template usage" and so on. It's not clear to me what you are actu-
>> ally trying to define.
>> 
>>> What is XML?
>> 
>>> What is RDF?
>> 
>>> What is JSON?
>> 
>> (It does not seem a good use of TAG resouces to answer such questions.)
> 
> 
> 

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Received on Wednesday, 13 June 2012 02:44:13 UTC

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